Women & Girls Fund honors Mary Lou McAllister with the 2014 Women & Girls Fund Award

Mary Lou McAllister is one of those rare individuals who notices what her community needs, sets her sites on a clear goal to fill the need, then marshals the energy of volunteers until that goal is met. That’s why, according to Paige Evans, the Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore has named her the recipient of the 2014 Women & Girls Fund Award. “Mary Lou’s efforts to improve the lives of children and families in St. Michaels personify the Women & Girls Fund belief that every one of us can make a difference.”

McAllister is a master motivator and negotiator who delights in bringing quality programs and facilities to her adopted home. In 1987, just three years after she moved to St. Michaels, McAllister founded “Christmas in St. Michaels” with a handful of volunteers, hoping the group could raise enough money to open a much-needed day care center in the small Miles River town. and indeed they did. With funds in hand, McAllister persuaded Easton Day Care (now Critchlow Adkins Children’s Centers) to staff a location in St. Michaels, then convinced Talbot County’s Public School Superintendent to provide a portable classroom for the day care program, free of charge. That was a great day, McAllister says.

Christmas in St. Michaels events, which now include Christmas tree ornament sales, a holiday gala and a parade, house tour and gingerbread house contest, have been so successful over the years that the organization has raised more than a million dollars for non-profit programs. The money established the day care center, built and maintains the Bay Hundred Community Pool, and established and supports the St. Michaels Community Center. In addition, Christmas in St. Michaels funds music, athletics and citizenship programs in the public schools, and a range of other programs for the local fire department, library and other organizations.

McAllister is an active octogenarian who plays tennis, sails, reads, walks, and participates in water aerobics. A native of Cockeysville, she is married to William W. McAllister and has two grown children and four grandchildren. Years ago, when she lived on the Western Shore, she was an assistant buyer and merchandise manager at the old Hutzler Brothers department store in Baltimore, but once she moved to St. Michaels, the career she chose was to improve life for her neighbors. “Being able to give back to your community is a privilege, a gift that we can give that not only provides for others, but also inspires others,” she said. “My faith has defined my beliefs in serving the needs of others. God has given us talents, and it is up to us to use them.”

Today, McAllister’s list of volunteer efforts is impressive. In addition to being the founder and emeritus board member of Christmas in St. Michaels, she is on the boards of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, the Academy Art Museum, CASA of Talbot and Dorchester Counties, St. Michaels After School (SMASH), and Critchlow Adkins Day Care Centers. She also is board president of the Children’s Home Foundation, president and endowment committee chair for the Bay Hundred Pool Committee, and she’s a vestry member at Christ Church.

And, so it is with great pleasure, The Women & Girls Fund is proud to name Mary Lou McAllister the recipient of the 2014 Women & Girls Fund Award.